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By Mike Copper, Tom Reisenweber, Jeff Kirik Erie Times-News staff bloggers
The Varsity blog is the 2013 winner of an international EPPY award for best sports blog. EPPYs are awarded to media-affiliated websites by Editor & Publisher, an industry trade publication. Varsity is primarily maintained by Times-News sports writers Mike Copper and Tom Reisenweber and sports editor Jeff Kirik.   Read more about this blog.
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Winter Warm-up – Sharpsville

Sharpsville Blue Devils
Coach (season, record): Mike Sikorski (5th season, 38-27)
2011 overall record: 10-4
2011 region record (place): 7-3 (co-champion)
2011 playoff results: Lost 3-0 to North East in the District 10 playoffs.
Top players lost: Vince Falconi, Mike Riffe, Jon Wilson, Marcus Llewellyn
Top returning players: Kevin Yarabinec, Nick Siquenza, Bryan Stafford, Tanner Morris
Assistant coaches: Bobby Donatelli, Shawn Valenly, Kyle Rupp
Outlook: Sharpsville put together a solid 2011 season before running into North East in the playoffs. The Blue Devils have only four starters back from last year after the graduation of Vincent Falconi, who is playing for Washington & Jefferson, Mike Riffe, Jon Wilson and Marcus Llewellyn among others. Kevin Yarabinec returns as Sharpsville’s leader as a senior shortstop and hard-throwing pitcher. Yarabinec batted .327 last year and had an ERA of 1.08, including 44 strikeouts. Fellow senior Nick Siquenza is back as well along with catcher Bryan Stafford (.349 average) and sophomore Tanner Morris. The Blue Devils could also receive contributions from juniors Taylor Lenzi, Jake Bulick, Ross Llewellyn, Chris Przicina and Jalen Mockabee along with freshmen Greg Popatak and Tyler Wansack. Sharpsville will be inexperienced this season and its success could be based on how quickly the underclassmen adjust to the varsity game.

23 Linesville 4
27 Union 4
2 at Slippery Rock 4
9 at Rocky Grove 4
13 at Hickory* 4
16 Sharon* 4
18 West Middlesex 4
20 Mercer* 4
23 at Kennedy Catholic 4
25 at Reynolds* 4
27 at Wilmington* 4
30 Jamestown 4
2 Hickory* 4
4 at Sharon* 4
9 at Mercer* 4
11 Reynolds* 4
16 Wilmington* 4
*Region games

Coach (season, record): Bob Zikovich (3rd season, 30-9)
2011 overall record: 15-1
2011 region record (place): 12-0 (champion)
2011 playoff results: Lost to Cochranton 1-0 in the District 10 playoffs.
Top players lost: Brianna Flynn, Kayla Piccirilli
Top returning players: Hanley Spencer, Mckenzie Popatak, Kristy Roberts, Taylor O’Connor, Molly Gill, Katie Hanley, Maddie Shuttleworth, Megan Davis, Ave Ranelli, Kelsey Falconi, Katy Thompson, Racheal Hranchar
Assistant coaches: Ricky Grandy, Keith Wansack, Haley Germano
Outlook: Sharpsville was red-hot last season before Cochraton gutted out a 1-0 win in the playoffs. The Blue Darlings lost standouts Brianna Flynn and Kayla Piccirilli to graduation. Flynn leaves a huge hole not only in the lineup but on the mound as well. The good news for third-year coach Bob Zikovich is the return of Hanley Spencer, Mckenzie Popatak, Kristy Roberts, Taylor O’Connor, Molly Gill, Katie Hanley, Maddie Shuttleworth, Megan Davis, Ave Ranelli, Kelsey Falconi, Katy Thompson and Racheal Hranchar. Popatak is one of the top catchers in District 10 and her leadership behind the plate could be crucial with a new pitcher on the mound. Spencer and Roberts are returning first-team all-region infielders. Sharpsville has been the top team in Region 1 recently but its opponents have slowly improved and this could be the most challenging year for the Blue Darlings to win the region in recent history.

23 Linesville 4
29 at Reynolds* 4
3 at Kennedy Catholic* 4
5 at Slippery Rock 4
9 at Union 12
10 at West Middlesex* 4
12 at Warren JFK (Ohio) 4
17 Rocky Grove* 4
19 at Commodore Perry* 4
24 at Farrell* 4
26 Reynolds* 4
28 at Grove City 4
1 Kennedy Catholic* 4
3 West Middlesex* 4
8 Wilmington 4
10 at Rocky Grove* 4
15 Commodore Perry* 4
17 Farrell* 4
*Region games

Friday: Slippery Rock, Strong Vincent and Titusville

– Tom Reisenweber

Posted in: Baseball, Softball, Winter Warm-up

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